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The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy




BOOK REPORT:

Title and author:

"The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy: fiction with biographic elements

Arundhati Roy was trained as an architect. She has worked as a production designer and written the screenplays for two films. She lives in New Delhi. This is her first book.

Settings:

The book was first published in Britain in 1997. The story happens in Ayemenem, Kerala, South India in 1969.



Plot:

It is a tale about the childhood of two Indian children, Esthappen (Estha for short) and his fraternal twin sister, Rahel, and their divorced mother, Ammu, who live in the south Indian state of Kerala. Ammu, a Syrian Christian, has had no choice but to return to her parental home, following her divorce from the Hindu man she had married, the father of Estha and Rahel.

When their English cousin, a nine-year-old girl Sophie Mol, and her mother, Margaret Kochamma, arrive on a Christmas visit, Esthappen and Rahel learn that "Things Can Change in a Day".

The story centres on the visit and drowning death of the twins' half-English cousin. That visit overlaps with a love affair between Ammu and the family's carpenter, Velutha, a member of the Untouchable caste 'The God of Loss / The God of Small Things.'

The cousin's death and the discovery of the forbidden love affair cause great turmoil in conservative Ayemenem.

The consequences of these intertwined events - the drowning and the forbidden love affair - are dire: Estha stops speaking after Sophie Mol's death; Ammu is banished from her home, dying miserably and alone at age 31; Rahel is expelled from school, drifts, and marries an American, whom she later leaves.  "The God of Small Things" is beaten to death.

The narrative begins and ends as Rahel returns to her family home in India and to Estha. Unified again, there is a chance to heal their wounds together.

 

 

 

Characters:

Rahel and Estha:

A large part of the story is written from Rahel's perspective. Her thoughts and feelings are the same as her brother's because there is a certain bond between the twins. Esthappen and Rahel think of themselves together as Me, and separately as We or Us. Even after they are grown and have been separated, there is still a union between them that almost seems necessary to make them whole. However important their unity is to their identity, it seems to be dangerous to those around them, those who are close to them.

But this danger is more due to innocence than intent. It's an innocence, which cannot survive in the mixture of Indian and European society.

Rahel and Estha's innocence does not protect them from reality.

Ammu:

Ammu is Rahel and Estha's mother, who was married to a Bengali from whom she is divorced. She is very attractive and in a "viable, die-able age". Ammu and the twins live in the Ayemenem house with their grandmother, uncle, and grandaunt Baby. The family owns a pickle factory that comes into conflict with the Communists.

Ammu loves her children, and they know that. Therefore the twins try hard to acquire all of their mother's love.

Her tragic fate is that she loves the man by night, her children love by day: "The God of Small Things/The God of Loss", a man from a lower, untouchable caste working as the family's carpenter.

Problems:

·       Ammu loves the family's carpenter, who is also a man from the Untouchable caste. At that time (and even now) it is a real disgrace to the family.




·       Sophimol, the half-cousin of Rahel and Estha, dies tragically by drowning. She had been in Kerala just for a visit.

·       The time between the death of beloved Sophiemol and the discovery of the forbidden love affair between Ammu and Velutha are just 4 days. The family couldn't cope with 2 happenings within that short time.

·       Rahel and Estha's innocence brings their relatives into danger.

·       The religious system in the Hinduism hinders a relationship between Ammu and Velutha.

Style of the book:

The novel consists of 21 chapters.

The author's style is both poetic and unusual. The larger story contains many smaller ones that stand alone.

The story is told in the 3rd person's narrative. But the language changes, depending on the character whose feelings and situation the author wants to describe. Therefore the reader can "watch" the story from several views, mainly from Rahel's perspective.

The novel is rich with Indian family relationships, social custom and mores, politics, human emotions and behaviour. At one and the same time, it is tragic mystery and a love story.

The story is full of metaphors and filled with ironic and sarcastic remarks.

Message:

"The God of Small Things" is Velutha. As there is no understanding for "Big Things" in the relationship between Ammu and Velutha, they have to fall back on the "Small Things". The small things let them have a still fulfilled love.

People take always too much care of the Big Things in life, but they don't realize that the Small Things are at least as much important. For some people the Small Things are the only way to express their feelings because there mustn't be any Big Things.

PERSONAL Evaluation:

I have to say that this has been the best novel ever. I think, as the author is almost my neighbour I have a special relation to that story. I know all the places where it happens and can imagine the descriptions better.

However, to my mind, this novel is extraordinary to everyone due to the excellent writing style and explicit descriptions.










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